up in the air

A new month, leading to a new season. Last week was bright and there was warmth in the sun. I dug out Long Eye (one of my garden beds), transplanted some sulky rhubarb, pruned roses, and tucked some compost around the Algerian iris that came from John’s mum’s garden a decade ago. I also kept opening the file of my novella-in-progress, The Occasions, wondering if I would actually write myself to the conclusion. But I didn’t. Somehow I want to keep the work in the air, keep it open to possibility. I’m not sure yet how it will end. When a character came up the driveway in the middle of a garden party, bearing a carving knife with the hosts’ names inscribed on the blade, I realized things could get bad! But now I’m not so certain. There’s no rush, anyway. The setting of the book and its characters give me such pleasure that I could stay in its writing forever. Right now, it’s late in the evening in the story. People are sitting around the fire in its ring of stones, drinking the last of the champagne and listening to a woman play an oud. An owl has settled in a big fir nearby. Years ago I heard an interview with Carol Shields, right at the end of her life, and she said that writing requires patience. She said (and I’ve never forgotten), “I have all the time in the world.”

henry's kite

And speaking of up in the air: I finished a quilt for my grandson Henry yesterday. It’s all packed up to mail to him today (with a little gift for his sister too). Three grandchildren now have quilts for their beds and the youngest, who will be 2 in July, is next…

Up in the air (still up in the air). I wish I had the cover of my forthcoming book to share with you but the designer and publisher aren’t yet happy with the possibilities thus far. I’m not either. But we’ll get there. And I wish I knew what to do with the collection of essays I finished before Christmas. Some of the choices I had in the past are not longer available to me, for a number of reasons. And let’s face it. Lyrical, non-narrative essays about colour, about family and natural history, rivers, injury, and grief, by someone of my age? No one is in a rush to snap these up. But like The Occasions, there was joy in the writing, joy in finding a shape and a line to carry what I wanted to explore, of pursuing strange trails to their ends. Is it trite to say that, like quilting, the work itself is what gives me the most satisfaction? Threading the bright needles with strong thread, finding the best way to bind the layers together, smoothing, sometimes unpicking my stitches and beginning again, snipping with the beautiful little scissors…



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